Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has visited the headquarters of the United States Indo-Pacific Command and held wide-ranging interactions with its leadership to advance India-US defence collaboration across all domains and reaffirmed the commitment to work together for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific, amidst China’s aggressive actions in the region.
USINDOPACOM is a unified combatant command of the United States Armed Forces responsible for the key Indo-Pacific region. The USINDOPACOM and Indian military have wide-ranging engagements, including a number of military exercises, training events and exchanges. Adm John Aquilino, Commander USINDOPACOM, received Singh with Honour Ceremony on his visit to the Command’s headquarters in Hawaii, the Defence Ministry tweeted on Thursday.
Singh expressed satisfaction at the significant progress in the India-US defence partnership, it said. “Wide-ranging interactions with INDOPACOM leadership were held to advance India-US defense collaboration across all domains,” the ministry said, adding, “The commitment to working together for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific and beyond was reaffirmed.” Earlier, Singh visited various training sites of the US Army, Pacific (the Army Service Component Command to INDOPACOM) located around the island of Oahu. “The Military to Military relationship between India and the United States has been strengthened in recent years,” Singh tweeted, sharing photographs of his visit. He also laid a wreath at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. Singh was in the Hawaiian capital for a brief visit to the USINDOPACOM headquarters. He arrived here from Washington on Wednesday.
During his brief visit to the Hawaiian capital, the defence minister also paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at his statue here. India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China’s rising military manoeuvring in the strategically important region. China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea.Singh along with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visited Washington to attend the India-US ‘2+2’ Ministerial Dialogue on Monday – the first under the Biden administration.
The US side was represented by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin at the dialogue. Before the 2+2 Dialogue, Singh held a bilateral meeting with Austin and reviewed the entire gamut of Indo-US defence ties and agreed to step up military-to-military relations. Singh and Jaishankar also attended a virtual meeting between US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.